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SEC approves Globe’s cell tower company

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THE SECURITIES and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved the incorporation of Globe Telecom, Inc.’s new company that would build cellular towers, the telecommunications giant said on Wednesday.

In a disclosure to the stock exchange, Globe said it received the SEC’s approval on the incorporation of GTowers, Inc. on Aug. 20.

“The establishment of a tower company will help speed up the building and deployment of cellular towers in the country,” the company said.

In July, Globe said it will incorporate a separate tower holding company. After securing SEC approval, the company said it will begin divesting all or some of its tower assets.

Globe earlier said it was in talks with certain parties to form an independent tower company to help speed up the building and deployment of cellular towers.

However, Globe President and Chief Executive Officer Ernest L. Cu told reporters last month it has yet to come up with an agreement with these parties.

“The companies themselves are evaluating what the model will be. I guess paramount in their minds is whether a single tenant or the risk of having only one tenant on the tower company will be worth it for them,” he said.

Mr. Cu has said incorporating a separate tower holding company would “monetize assets for capex (capital expenditure) use and help maintain our consistent dividend policy.”

He noted this would also support the government’s initiative to find a third major player in the telco industry, as Globe plans to lease its towers.

Rival PLDT, Inc. said late last month that it is open to sharing towers should they be approached, but under some conditions.

“Obviously somebody has to step up and say, ‘Here’s a tower, you can share.’ And it has to be at an operating cost that is lower than our operating cost today, to make sense,” PLDT Chief Corporate Services Officer Ray C. Espinosa told reporters in late July.

Under their franchise, Globe and PLDT are allowed to build their own cellular towers for exclusive use.

But the government is pushing the companies to consider sharing their towers because of its economic benefits. Last month, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) received a P100-billion proposal from local company ISOC Infrastructures, Inc. to build 25,000 common towers over a seven-year period.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said then they are open to accommodating up to two independent tower companies.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez